Cal Poly’s yakʔitʸutʸu residence hall won the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold award for “implementing cost-saving green building features” that are efficient and inclusive.
This is the ninth time a Cal Poly project has been LEED-certified — a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement from the U.S. Green Building Council.
These dorms, recognizable by their modern concrete structure, large windows and Northern Chumash language labels, opened in September 2018. Cal Poly spent $198 million to build the seven residence halls that can house up to 1,475 students in double, triple and quad rooms.
In all, the residence halls amount to 375,225 square ft.
The word yakʔitʸutʸu means “our community” in the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini, Northern Chumash language.
“It was designed from the ground up to be innclusive, engaging and student-centered,” University Housing Executive Director Jo Campbell said in a news release.
The project began in January 2016, with social and environmental sustainability at the forefront; focusing on Northern Chumash tribal heritage and minimizing environmental risk were also important.
With LEED certification in mind, the yakʔitʸutʸu design team made their approach clear-cut. Daily vehicular travel was discouraged to prevent disrupting wildlife. Low-flow fixtures were installed in the gender-neutral bathrooms to reduce water usage by about 30%, according to a Cal Poly news release.
Outside the dorms, drought-resistant plants line each building and solar panels rest on top of the parking garage. Clean chemicals are used to safely clean the halls and University Housing Custodial Operations trains its team the benefits of green cleaning.
As a way to honor the Northern Chumash tribe and its land, the yakʔitʸutʸu dorms also have a Native and Indigenous Cultural Center that aims to “encourage students to (re)connect to the traditions and cultures of Native American and Indigenous peoples,” according to the news release.
Other LEED-certified projects at Cal Poly include Faculty Offices East, Vista Grande Dining, ASI Recreation Center, Poly Canyon Village, Construction Innovation Center, Advanced Technology Laboratory, Cotchett Education and Warren J. Baker Center for Science.